Remains of Monitor Sailors to be Interred at Arlington National Cemetery

Story Number: NNS130212-04Release Date: 2/12/2013 11:33:00 AM
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By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Navy Office of Information

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Feb. 12 that remains recovered from the USS Monitor will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

A ceremony will be held March 8 to honor the two unknown Sailors.

The specific date of the interment was chosen to honor Monitor's role in the Battle of Hampton Roads 151 years ago.

"These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington," said Mabus. "It's important we honor these brave men and all they represent as we reflect upon the significant role Monitor and her crew had in setting the course for our modern Navy."

The Brooklyn-built Monitor, the nation's first ironclad warship, made nautical history after being designed and assembled in 118 days. Commissioned Feb. 25, 1862, the Monitor fought in the first battle between two ironclads when it engaged CSS Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads March 9, 1862. The battle marked the first time iron-armored ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden ships.

Though the Monitor's confrontation with the Virginia ended in a draw, the Monitor prevented the Virginia from gaining control of Hampton Roads and thus preserved the Federal blockade of the Norfolk-area.

Months later, 16 Sailors were lost when the Monitor sank Dec. 31, 1862 in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C. Her wreck was discovered in 1974 was designated the nation's first national marine sanctuary, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Starting in 1998, the Navy, NOAA and the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Va., began working together to recover artifacts from Monitor.

During the summer of 2002, while attempting to recover the ship's 150-ton gun turret, Navy divers discovered human remains inside the turret. The remains were transported to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hawaii for possible identification.

JPAC, with the assistance of the Navy Casualty Office and NOAA, conducted a comprehensive effort to identify the remains of the unknown Sailors, to include time-demanding and detailed genealogical research. Given the age of the remains, efforts to identify them were unsuccessful. However, JPAC was able to narrow down possible descendents of the unknown Sailors to 30 family members from 10 different families.

"The decision to lay these heroes to rest in Arlington, honors not only these two men but all those who died the night Monitor sank and reminds us, that the sacrifices made a hundred and fifty years ago, will never be forgotten by this nation", said David Alberg, Superintendent of NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

2/27/2013 5:20:00 PM
It is fitting to inter these men in a place of honor in Arlington National Cemetery since they were removed from their Atlantic tomb. All who gave their lives for America deserve such an honor.

2/26/2013 7:27:00 PM
I was honored to participant in the burial of the CSS Hunley crew in 2004. If you can attend this ceremony, it will be a highlight in your life. God bless these men and all those who die for their beliefs!!

2/22/2013 9:20:00 PM
My wife and I plan to attend the ceremony, but need specifics about when and where to go in Arlington cemetery on March 8th. Please provide me with the details which will allow us to honor these men.

2/13/2013 10:20:00 AM
A very fitting and honorable tribute to these brave men. Although they were the "enemy", they faithfully served their nation and proved themselves faithful to their cause. Just as the crew from the CSS H.L. Hunley was honored, so should these sailors be interred with full military pomp and ceremony.

2/13/2013 8:25:00 AM
A fitting outcome for the brave men who went down with the ship. A personal interest is my Great Great Grandfather James Thomas Slover served on Monitor as 1st Class Pilot and survived the war.

2/12/2013 7:11:00 PM
What will be the time of the interment? What section will it be in? Will there be a simple headstone, or an actual memorial of some kind? (I guess this does not qualify for a "group interment".) Will the ceremony be graveside, or in the Memorial Amphitheater, or the Memorial Amphitheater Chapel, or some place else?

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The facial reconstruction of two Sailors whose remains were discovered inside the gun turret of the USS Monitor after it was raised from the ocean floor in 2002 are revealed during a ceremony.
120306-N-WE887-001 WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2012) The facial reconstruction of two Sailors whose remains were discovered inside the gun turret of the USS Monitor after it was raised from the ocean floor in 2002 are revealed during a ceremony sponsored by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation. The ceremony is part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 8 and 9, 1862, when Monitor and CSS Merrimac fought in the first ironclad battle in naval history. Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, N.C. later that year. While much has been learned about the physical characteristics of the two Sailors, their identities remain a mystery. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gina K. Morrissette/Released)
March 7, 2012
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